What is ARRCC?
“ARRCC is a dynamic charity which assists in providing care and opportunities for adults with physical and/or sensory impairments, learning disabilities, older people and those living with Dementia”.
“It is our aim to rebuild lives and equip our members with the skills they need to face the future with confidence and optimism! We do this by providing a holistic approach to service provision, creating opportunities to access educational, recreational and therapeutic facilities. Our centres are based in Rye (ARRCC Rye and ARRCC Elders), Bexhill and Folkestone.”
I used be a member of their Folkestone centre taking part in a variety of activities particularly outside of photography and other media such as drawing and painting since I was learning the basics of photography in my school’s sixth form at the time. The ARRCC centre was an essential as well as an exciting choice for me, this wasn’t only because they knew me very well from the past but mostly because I do have a disability which they can care for incase if things got difficult during the experience.
My disabilities are ASD and ADHD which had led towards anxiety on a number of levels in my life which has of course made some strong effects during my development as an art and photography learner. With this comprehended and supported bringing genuine comfort to the space, I needed to be aware about what I was going to do and learn from this work experience, the centre generally works on all sorts of projects, whenever them being films, photography, painting, music etc so I initially intended to help out the team with the skills I had learn’t at my very possible best.
Trish Bishop was the manager of the centre and we had a talk about the 10 days of my assistance which went confidently well as I mentioned my experiences in university as well as a series of projects, aside this, Trish mentioned about an upcoming Fashion Show featuring the ARRCC called ARRCC Lark.
“When I look at the fashion magazines and the adverts on the TV it makes me cross, I don’t look like that and I never will. Why aren’t there more people with disabilities represented?”.
“ARRCC Lark is a project born to raise disability awareness and make a stand against the ‘perfect body’ culture which is portrayed in the fashion industry. It places unrealistic social pressure and aspirations upon many people. Many of our members tell us that they intensely dislike shopping for fashionable clothes because even though they enjoy looking well dressed, the market does not take them into consideration.”
“Over 2014 we were busy deconstructing clothes and putting them back together, adapting and recycling, embellishing and hand printing exciting garments that challenge convention. The culmination of all this was a spectacular catwalk show that took place Saturday 7 March 2015 at The Grand Hotel, Folkestone.”
“The event was a partnership with local organisations such as Mind Folkestone, The Alzheimer’s Society, East Kent College and local designers Artisan Handmades and Hannah Miller. With over 300 people attending the event was a huge success!”
I was one of the official photographers at the Leas Cliff Hall for the ARRCC Lark Fashion Show on the 11th of March, The show was about 2 hours long which was a long shoot for me that had eventually filled my cameras SD card to the maximum. Ideally I used my other Nikon camera (The D90) instead of the D3100 as the SD card had bigger space, plus the lenses could zoom in further than my standard 18 to 55 mm lenses.
The show was excellent and the photographs I took definitely had some of the authentic tones of the coloured lightings in the hall that really emphasised the ARRCC members as well as the motivational speeches in between the catwalks, this overall was a series of images with rather different people in a fashion show to what is commonly seen in the fashion world which I think is powerful and makes me wish experiences such as these should happen more.
The catwalks had particular themes which the models had personal interests in such as TV shows, artists, music, books etc, some of the performers were also the artists that created the clothes as well. The show overall in my eyes was like a show unlike the fashion catwalks photographers know too well. It was like a show where everybody had the freedom to just simply be themselves without any priorities and regulations.
I tried using a flash gun which I borrowed from the universities camera stall which didn’t work as the lighting in the hall was rather dark showing shades of multiple colours, so when using the flash, I ended up having images over exposed with only the bottom part of the images having a fair level of exposure plus the colours were coming out different to what I was seeing originally, even with the white balance having indoor awarenesses.
Flash gun effect didn’t work as well as the photos above without a flash gun
While I was at the ARRCC centre discussing some potential activities I could do with the media skills I had, Sandra who was another member of the ARRCC mentioned an upcoming event called the Shakespeare night where people from the centre as well as the East Kent Collage community would participate in a Shakespeare themed tribute to famous plays which was just a few days before my first scheduled day.
The event had a lack of lighting, but worked well for its theme, there was even a few photos I took of the staged area with a different light source in the background to show comparison between the two setups of the centre to show viewers more of a comprehensible presentation of what the show was intending to express.
DAY 1: My skills in advantage to teach the inexperienced.
The first day was a Monday which was not one of the media days I was mainly intending to participate in, however, other than discussing my plans and ideas regarding the projects Trish likes to create as well as myself, I found two members in the ARRCC centre and encouraged them to go to the beach and discuss the basics of a camera.
It was very enjoyable to see people that haven’t had a lot of experience with a DSLR camera learning about the essentials of shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and compositions as it also tested me as a teacher in regards to how I was explaining things, I was aware not to use terminology being too advanced as someone who had been in a university for a while and the fact that I taught the beginners using the DSLR camera I owned for about 4 years. The learners were eager to learn instead of being too confused and afraid which made me feel extremely proud as my learners were people with Aspergers Syndrome like myself, so by successfully interesting them within the subject along with some essential tips being mentioned proves that I have maintained my skills or momentum as a photographer.
I used the beach as an example of a bright area since it was very sunny in the afternoon, this gave me the advantage to explain the importance of a fast shutter speed and a mid (or high if needed) aperture along with the change of white balance to direct sunlight. The arches was more of the opposite since it was a shadowy zone which gave me another advantage to talk about the shutter speed and aperture again, but in regards of reversing their roles from the beach shoot, this was done by slightly lowering the shutter speed and aperture.
I also taught the beginners about crouching or positioning of the photographer in terms of subject compositions, I mentioned towards my learners about the skills of capturing more straighter subjects as well as creating an image with some interesting shapes being repeated which was when the crouched position came in, this position also prevented unnecessary aspects within the pictures which wouldn’t create images with negative distractions, an example of this would be the walls above the curve of the arches and some diagonal points of view cropping the original shape of the first arch.
The photos by my two learners
DAY 2: Greenscreen and Adobe Premier
This day was what was supposed to be a day of experimenting with some video equipment and a green screen, the filming went very well as not only helped out with the filming but I also became part of the interviews as a bonus.
The project was an idea from Dominic, (a film maker, photographer who also volunteers at the ARRCC), the idea was about the Folkestone Bouverie Place regarding how busy it was along with a few health and safety issues which caused problems for the disabled society. This was a challenge for me as I personally explained my disability and its cons in terms of my occasional experiences in the area but was worth the pressure for the project’s consistent message.
However, as I got to the stage of editing, the Adobe seemed to have some sever issues preventing me of developing as well as learning a few new aspects as I was still new to the particular Adobe application.
Later on, I had a little “lecture” with Dominic about an artist he was very interested in named Hokusai and his famous artwork known as the Great Wave off Kanagawa, aside this, he showed me and some members of the ARRCC a series of films made by the artist with beach locations which gave Dominic the idea of getting a few members to use the beach as an advantage for their own artworks whenever it was a subliminal message or a common positive mood for example.
The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai
DAY 3: Collage Projects
A David Hockney like collage of Sarah who used a Canon Selfie printer to create her small prints with its magenta, yellow and blue development as the prints changed colours every step individually by printing in and out of the machine front and back.
On this day, I noticed that a majority of people were experimenting with collage which then I met this artist named Rob, who was behind the idea of the project. I found a brief of his idea which he kindly let me keep as I told him about my learning objectives within this work experience.
The project’s objectives were in support from The ARRCC and The District Mind Resource Centre in Folkestone by enthusing non-artists and individuals with specific needs in creative acts being enjoyable, engaging and empowering. The work allowed individuals own preconceptions towards the nature and forms of creative action which engaged them new strategies in visual art. This resulted the participants to develop an innovative and sustainable creative identity. The workshops consisted in a variety of workshops which covered a range of different creative practices such as the collage styles, painting, drawing and digital photography.
I had a look at the series of collages the participants were making and thought they were doing very well as they had a good understanding of the style along with some composition methodologies.
I did give the participants and few advice regarding the colour schemes (mainly with the Earth Collage) regarding the tones making images look more visually compatible. The magazines we had of course didn’t have every aspect we needed so we expected every piece to not stand out as well as others plus it would of been a little better if the ground like colours were more closer within the nature area.
A collage of the planet from underwater seas to green nature to the space around our globe.
Here I supported a centre user named Rachel, Rachel was a lover of hedgehogs, so I tried to experiment with societies most famous hedgehog, “Sonic” by drawing an outline for Rachel as she would fill the shape in with cut out coloured foil correlating to the original print of the cartoon beside her. The idea was to experiment different ways of colouring in a drawn subject.
DAY 4: Window Presentations/Advertising the centre
The ARRCC was having a few changes around its site, this was including some artwork being taken off the windows for new replacements. This led Dom to negotiate with me about this and asked if I could photograph around the building for him to print and stick on the windows to express the ARRCC centre’s purposes.
After spending the morning and afternoon inspecting the site and capturing the ARRCC’s creative aspects. I noticed that some of the photographs when inspected on a computer were having some unnecessary features such as the walls without any paint on, scaffolding and messy tables. The more close up photos of works and objects worked much better as it prevented these issues so overall I could of been a little more aware of backgrounds when photographing people (as shown in the portrait above).
DAY 5: Poetry
For this day, I had a session with a guest named Sherry, Sherry had a series of prints of a particular artwork which nobody got an explanation about, instead we made up a poem about the work which started with breakfast leading towards a bus journey which eventually crashes which leads to a scene of waking up in some sort of brain control agency. I thought the poetry in my opinion was an interesting way of perception which reminded me of my Bully Beef & Bayonets publication, the writing style adds more levity than just a simple word or even give the work a more specific presence despite the audiences judgement which can generally play the major part in these styles of paintings.
A member and friend of mine Steve showed me his photo book including my photos at the ARRCCLark Fashion show
DAY 6: Rob’s Art Project continuation
Much like Day 3, Rob was getting members together to create their personalised works, the majority of the works were in collage and David Hockney like portraits of the members. A volunteer of the centre named Dan was making a collage out of holiday magazine images of the sea and swimming pools from the beautiful locations/countries, I was personally a huge fan of the colour scheme of blue sea as well as the blue colours I would see in a swimming pool which inventively made me want to participate.
Once finished, the collage was placed on the wall converting with the rest of the collages Dan made which he was intending to create the planet (despite its spherical shape), afterwards, I helped out other participants’s works by searching and cutting out images as well as putting the cut outs in compositions since there were times where the artist would not be sure where to position subjects.
Dan’s Earth Collage
Rachel’s Hockney like portrait with individual photos of her portrait being creativity mixed
DAY 7: Dominic’s Sea Theme Idea Development
In further referencing to Day 2, Dom’s idea of using the theme of the sea was established with a variety of works (paintings and drawings alike) unfortunately, Dom wasn’t in the centre preventing me making a note of digital media styled works whenever it was a film or series of pictures of the sea, instead I took a few shots of a particular drawing of the sea which was traced against a projected image on the wall which I found pretty clever, I only managed to have the work of Mathew ( a member of the ARRCC) although a majority of members worked the same way as Trish came up with the idea.
I then decided to take part by creating my work of an anonymous island with some sort of castle on top of it in the distance of the sea, the image was a reference to a 16 bit video game I graphically loved rather than the game itself since it was ridiculously hard, it was famously known as ECCO THE DOLPHIN for the Sega Mega Drive.
The work was made with chalk that was easily smudged when touched which I on purposely smudged to create the liquid like effect in the sea along with some crayon which I also found on my table as other people were using them, and thirdly the sky out of some paint as it took me quite a while to think of what were the best items to use to create a good detailed sky. I hoped the crayons would be an advantage which they thankfully were in the end. the crayon and smudged chalk mixed pretty realistically in terms of designing the liquid effect on the sea.
Matthew’s Sea after the tracing
My artwork made with crayon, smudged chalk and paint inspired by SEGA mega drive’s “ECCO THE DOLPHIN” one of my favourite video games in terms of its pixel art.
DAY 8: Drama
When filming, one of the main elements can be staged acting which brings the ARRCC towards these sessions of participating in a circle and practicing skills which were beneficial for film projects if the participants were interested. The ARRCC also has taken part in variety of plays such as the Shakespere night I photographed during the Easter holidays. In this particular session, a number of participants were given a variety of random everyday objects with a goal of using the objects for rather different reasons instead of their original purposes of use, such as using a painting frame as a TV screen by placing the frame in front of ones face to present themselves as recorded content. After the session, I was given a questionnaire form to sign which was answered positively as Ive always enjoyed the genre of drama.
DAY 9: Decorating
I initially started this day by realising that the walls in the art centre were needing a repaint which prevented artwork including the cropped photograph collages that Rob was designing with his participants being placed against the walls, I tried asking Rob if he planned any photoshoots and printing for the day but he unfortunately didn’t so things could of been better if I watched the development of previous days as well as helping participants with the prints. Later on, I was asked if I could remove nails and stables out of one of the walls so the painters could re paint it which I did along with Dan who was another volunteer at the centre. The day overall wasn’t as busy as the others days as most people were changing their timetable days as well as the centre being under construction (that being artwork being taken down for new works on windows to show the public and a new disabled toilet being placed in a room where a small kitchen used to be) including Dom who used to come in on Thursdays with some photographic and film media.
DAY 10: Ray’s new camera and video editing
On my last day, Dom had a film that was directed by a member named Steve, the film was about a political situation with a president being unsure on his position which led to a rough unclear statement/speech about himself potentially retiring which eventually was a hoax making the people of his country disgruntled. I participated in the editing with Dom and Amanda who was also experienced with films and photography.
Aside this, I met a member named Ray who recently brought himself a new camera since he wanted to learn and get into photography, I examined his camera for him to talk about the abilities his camera could do, such as white balance preview. I then let Ray experiment with his camera outside and inside the centre, along with a tripod on some certain occasions which was recommended by Dom.
OVERALL REVIEW OF MY 10 DAY WORK EXPERIENCE AT ARRCC
I started my work experience by participating in two particular events known as the ARRCClark Fashion Show and Shakespeare night including drama and a theoretical atmosphere. I then had my 10 days of work experience at the ARRCC and the centre consisted in a variety of activities which overall made the experience an “all rounder” for me.
FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS
My feelings with the ARRCC was good for me as somebody who can take information rather slowly and was also pretty useful for boosting my confidence as well pushing my comfort zones, (Day 2 was the key example of pushing my comfort zone as I was filmed talking about my disability and how it can interfere me when in public). My thoughts were mostly positive, everyone at the ARRCC were very friendly and helpful but most importantly understanding each other as well as myself in regards to our disabilities.
The sense I could make out of the ARRCC was that it was a space that works very hard for not only pushing the comfort zones of those who participate in regards to their confidence levels but also hard working in designing projects that can appeal to those outside of the ARRCC, the artworks can have specialised purposes and goals for the outsiders as well as ordinary enjoyable ideas which can motivate ARRCC members. Overall I find the centre absolutely worth being a part of as the reality of working places in the world can have unfair principles which prevent a motivation for a more expanded space of cultures/peoples backgrounds.
In my conclusion, The ARRCC is an inspiring place to develop myself and overcome anxieties. As of the days of experience, there were a majority of days that included the development of Rob’s project which consisted in styles familiar to my creative skills, I spent a lot of time helping participants and I could of balanced myself by using my skills as well as helping others.
MY ACTION PLAN
If I arose from this place again, I would set myself more plans to work on in the centre by spending a little more time making my own works as well as helping others as I think It could make the most of my days at the centre.